Friday, January 8, 2010

Summer garden update 2010

Wow, it's the second week of January already, and it's amazing what a bit of rain does for the garden. While we missed out on the Spring rains after our traditional dry winter, they certainly came back with a vengeance at Christmas time! It will be our third year here, and we're just coming to grips with how the weather patterns work.

Summer is our monsoon season in South-East Queensland. Lots of storms with deluges of rain! For us it presents a particular problem with soil erosion, but we're developing strategies to minimise it. On the garden front though, we're cultivating an increasing jungle!

This picture of our veggie patch, was taken from above (near Hilltop chicken coop):

It's a tangle of pumpkin, watermelon, rockmelon, zucchini, sweet potato, corn, beans and sunflowers! I didn't really plan how things went in, as our design is constantly evolving. We did manage to grow some sweet corn cobs, but something ate it before we could! Oh well, the chooks loved the leftovers.

Speaking about Hilltop chicken coop though...

Some volunteer pumpkin vines from the compost have taken over! It's creating a cooling effect around the coop, along with the shade-cloth I was given recently, which covers the exposed areas of the run. I have another choko vine to plant here, and I hope with the pumpkin vines for protection this time, it will end up growing. Maybe by next summer, I'll have a choko covered run instead?

At the moment though, many of our retaining walls are being covered by vines!

In the background are the watermelon vines and in the foreground are the rockmelons. I hope by the end of summer, we have some yummy fruit to eat. The sunflowers are always a bonus! These were planted from the sunflowers I grew last year. They always add such a lovely splash of colour in the garden.

And finally, to show what a bit of rain does to a garden - here's an earlier picture taken in Winter/Spring. We hadn't planted out the batter of our newly constructed wall, but you can see the veggie patch in the background.

And here is the same perspective a few months later!

See how everything seems to green up! Yes, we have even MORE rockmelon (or watermelon) vines which sprang up voluntarily from our compost. There's a persimmon tree in that tangle of vines, planted on top of a mound - where the compost was used. Thankfully, we've managed to plant extra trees this year: a black mulberry, astringent persimmon, 2 pears, avocado (fuerte) and a kumquat and pummelo tree to go in soon. Just trying to find the right space to plant it!

We've identified several problems this year however, which need addressing in our garden.

1. We need to mulch all areas of exposed soil, whether we are finished moving dirt or not. It's a strategy to reduce erosion by improving the structure of the soil. Moist mulch allows for increased microbial activity, where exposed, compacted soil only repels moisture.

2. Digging swales and a series of small ponds to slow down the flow of water. In addition we're planting trees close to these water stores to soak up moisture. We've already started digging the swales by hand, as the summer storms have enforced the need for better run-off strategies.

3. Integrating animals into our planting systems. These most obviously are our chooks, but recently our daughter also received some guinea pigs as a Christmas present. Our neighbours also have goats which we can share our "weeds" and overgrown grass with. This requires fencing however, something we need to work on this year.

Anyway, more on the garden in my next post. I want to share how my luffa trellis went.


  1. Wow Chris you have been busy. I envy all your vines, ours never survive the Christmas heat.
    It is truly amazing how quickly everything bounces back with a bit of rain. Including the weeds. I can't keep on top of them at the moment.

  2. The rain has been an absolute lifesaver. Without it I reckon the vines would've shrivelled up by now.

    As a result though (like you) the weeds are prolific here too. Dave just ran the brushcutter over them. I would love animals to take care of most of the hard work for us though, LOL.

    One day we'll make it happen. :)

  3. Looking absolutely fabulous Chris. The rain has been bloody terrific.

  4. Hasn't it been terrific! The welcomed rain has germinated many seeds around the place I wasn't expecting. That liquid stuff from the sky is gold. :)


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